Health Minister Kwaku Agyemang Manu has admitted that government failed to send its officials to inspect ambulances it was procuring before they were shipped to Ghana.
He told an Accra High Court on Thursday morning that this is contrary to the clear terms of the contract.
The Minister is the Attorney General’s fourth witness in a case in which Former Deputy Finance Minister, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, and two others are accused of causing financial loss to the state in the purchase of the vehicles.
Thirty ambulances received by government from supplier Big Sea Trading Company Limited have been described by the Attorney General as defective and not fit for purpose.
A €2.3 million loss is said to have been caused to the state as a result of the transaction.
Lawyers for Dr Forson led by Dr Abdul Aziz Bamba on September 1, continued with their cross-examination of the Health Minister.
The Health Minister first admitted that government did not perform one of its obligations under the contract.
This was the requirement of establishing Letters of Credit 120 days after the contract was signed.
Below is the question and answer session by the two in court.
Dr Bamba: “Did the government of Ghana establish the LC as in the manner required by clause 4.2.1.?”
Health Minister: “In my mind, I will say no. But my lady let me draw your attention to another fact. In that same bullet point, LCs on the sight of goods shall be established upon the signing of the contract for every 50 ambulances.
“My lady, Exhibit V that I have, speaks about purchasing brand new 200 medical ambulances. And so my lady, the contract for every 50 ambulances that clause 4.2 talks about, was never done. And therefore, the LCs should not have been established at all.”
Dr Bamba: “Will you agree with me that by the government of Ghana not complying with clause 4.2.1 in terms of the time frame for setting up the LC, the government of Ghana breached Exhibit V.“
Health Minister: “I will like to agree with you”
The Health Minister then admitted that the government equally did not take advantage of the terms of the contract permitting it to inspect the vehicles before they were shipped.
Dr Bamba: “Exhibit V, Claude 7, provided for a pre-shipment inspection of the ambulances before they are shipped to Ghana. Is that correct? “
Health Minister: “That is correct.”
Dr Bamba: “To the best of your knowledge, did the government of Ghana conduct a pre-shipment inspection before the ambulances were shipped to Ghana”
Health Minister: “No my lord.”
The Health Minister subsequently admitted that the Health Ministry reached an agreement with the supplier on a plan for rectifying the defects in the ambulances.
Some medical equipment for the vehicles was since shipped but never cleared from the ports.
Dr Bamba questioned the Health Minister on why the equipment was not cleared. Mr Manu said the Ministry did not have the funds to do so.
He, therefore, urged the supplier to clear the items. Dr Bamba however argued that it was the obligation of the Ministry of Health to clear the items.
Dr Bamba: “The testimony that you just gave is not correct. It was the responsibility of the Government of Ghana to clear the equipment.”
Health Minister: “I do not see it so.”